Otzelberger leaves ISU for Washington

In pursuit of reaching the next level, Iowa State men’s basketball assistant coach T.J. Otzelberger is heading west.

The eight-year ISU assistant will assume a similar position at the University of Washington – joining Huskies’ Basketball Coach Lorenzo Romar in hopes of moving closer to a head coaching position in the future.

Otzelberger told the Associated Press that Romar convinced him a move to Seattle would help him land a head coaching job someday.

“T.J. has earned a reputation as a tenacious recruiter and his depth of experience will benefit our program immediately,” Romar said in a Washington press release Tuesday. “We are excited to welcome him to the Husky family.”

The 36-year old Otzelberger had been with Iowa State since 2006 and arrived with former head coach Greg McDermott. Otzelberger was promoted to associate head coach in 2010 under Fred Hoiberg, who at the time cited Otzelberger’s presence as critical in rebuilding the program.

The renowned recruiter also was responsible for Iowa State’s game plans over the past two seasons and helped Hoiberg lead the Cyclones to back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances for the first time in 12 years.

“The way Fred approaches basketball is really creative,” Otzelberger told the Associated Press. “Fred also showed me a lot about believing in the guys and building their confidence.”

Otzelberger was integral in the recruitment of several All-Big 12 players and eventual NBA draftees including Royce White, Craig Brackins, Diante Garrett and Mike Taylor.

Moving to Seattle, the Milwaukee, Wisc. native hopes to follow in the footsteps of former Romar assistants Randy Bennett and Cameron Dollar – now the respective head coaches at Saint Mary’s and Seattle.

Along with the Cyclones’ success on the court, Otzelberger was instrumental in the program’s excellence off it. During his tenure, three of the best cumulative GPAs have been achieved, including the 2012 year when four players earned academic All-Big 12 honors.

While Otzelberger cited the move as “the next step in my progression”, he was quick to recognize the Iowa State community on his Twitter account Tuesday.

“Thanks to all the Cyclone fans for their kind words and messages. Ames is a special place because of the amazing people! Going to miss it!”

Otzelberger is the fiance of Marshalltown Community College women’s basketball coach Alison Lacey.